Hybrid and private clouds are gaining in popularity as more enterprise workloads head to the cloud, and Docker is taking off like gangbusters. But there is also a palpable lack of cloud expertise.
These are among the conclusions reached by enterprise SaaS cloud provider RightScale in the 2016 edition of its "State of the Cloud Report," which was drawn from a survey of more than 1,000 IT professionals on cloud usage in their organizations.
Moving on up
The trends described in the report can mostly be summed up in one word: more.
Enterprise customers have more hybrid and private cloud setups than last year, with private cloud adoption increasing year on year from 63 percent to 77 percent, and hybrid adoption up from 58 percent to 71 percent. More workloads also are moving to the cloud -- mainly the private cloud -- up from 22 percent in the last report to 31 percent this time around.
As private cloud usage rises, VMware vSphere remains the leading private cloud, used by 44 percent of respondents. OpenStack placed second among small businesses and fourth among enterprises, where it was beaten out by VMware vCloud Suite and Microsoft System Center. Microsoft's Azure Pack also showed up in both enterprise and small-business private clouds, a sign that Microsoft may see greater expansion once Azure Stack is formally unveiled.
"More" is also the watchword when it comes to the use of devops technologies, with Docker enjoying explosive growth. Twenty seven percent of those surveyed are now using Docker, up from 13 percent the previous year. Its use within enterprises has risen to 29 percent, and 38 percent are making plans to use Docker in some form.
The only devops tools ahead of Docker are Chef and Puppet, which racked up slightly larger usage in enterprises as opposed to small businesses.
Look out, Amazon -- here comes Azure
There's no prize for guessing which cloud provider remained the No. 1 choice across both enterprises and small businesses: Amazon Web Services is king with 56 percent and 58 percent of those groups, respectively.
But Microsoft Azure has climbed into the No. 2 slot -- no small feat -- with 23 percent of enterprises and 26 percent small businesses. In addition, 50 percent and 39 percent, respectively, are either experimenting with Azure or making plans to use it. That bodes well for Microsoft's ambitions to fill the cloud needs of both large and smaller businesses.
Other public cloud providers -- VMware vCloud Air, Google App Engine, IBM Softlayer, Oracle Cloud, Google IaaS, and Digital Ocean -- are left in the low double or single digits when it comes to usage. VMware scored highest with enterprises, thanks to its existing presence and deep entrenchment there. But small businesses favored Google App Engine, most likely due to its low-threshold, developer-friendly, "just enough" approach to PaaS.
Another key takeaway of RightScale's report is that use of multiple clouds is common. Eighty two percent of enterprises use more than one cloud, running apps on an average of 1.5 public and 1.7 private clouds per organization, and experimenting with approximately the same number of public and private clouds.
The implications seem plain: Enterprises want to keep their options open and are curious about different cloud providers. The only way for them to find out is to get their hands dirty.
Cloud talent needed, inquire within
RightScale also cited several shifts in attitude that seem to be a product of the maturation of the cloud market. Previously, security was perceived as the cloud's biggest challenge, but that's eclipsed across the board -- if only slightly -- by "lack of resources/expertise." Compliance, managing multiple cloud services, managing costs, and governance all remained at around the same level of concern. (Performance concerns came in last.)
The shift toward an emphasis on human resources goes hand-in-hand with any maturing technology. After the low-hanging fruit for what the cloud can accomplish is harvested, attention turns to pushing things even further, and the need for workers with boundary-pushing skill sets -- data science, cloud-based devops, and container experts -- rises accordingly.